- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut police department paid a professor $5,000 for a study that found a series of flaws in reports that say police officers in the state are pulling over minority drivers at disproportionate rates, according to documents released Friday.

Manchester police hired Texas State University criminal justice professor Brian Withrow last year to review the reports by the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University. Police released Withrow’s report Friday under a public records request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

Withrow said in one of his findings that the Connecticut data didn’t measure whether officers knew the race and ethnicity of drivers before they stopped them. In another, he said researchers at the institute are incorrect in suggesting that racial and ethnic disparities in the traffic stops are indicative of bias.

The institute has said the disparities “may indicate” bias but doesn’t prove racial profiling.

Kenneth Barone, project manager at the institute, defended its work Friday and disputed Withrow’s conclusions.

“There are no empirical facts to justify his opinions,” Barone said.

The ACLU’s request came after the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association recently said in written testimony to a legislative committee that several police departments had enlisted experts who found flaws in the institute’s work. The association did not disclose those experts’ reports or say which departments hired them, prompting the ACLU to request any such reports from all police agencies in the state.

Of the many departments that have responded to the ACLU so far, only Manchester has provided such a report.

David McGuire, executive director of the state ACLU chapter, criticized police officials for not sharing the report with the state advisory board that oversees the traffic stop data analyses.

Manchester Police Chief Marc Montminy did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.

For the past two years, the institute has released annual reports analyzing traffic stop data collected by all of the more than 100 police agencies in the state, under a state law designed to prevent racial profiling.

The institute’s most recent report showed that 14 percent of all traffic stops by police statewide from October 2014 to September 2015 involved black drivers, when black people of driving age comprised 9 percent of the population. Nearly 13 percent of traffic stops involved Hispanic drivers, when driving-age Hispanics comprised 12 percent of Connecticut residents. Some local departments had higher disparities.

The report also said those rates were higher during daylight hours, when researchers said officers could see the drivers.

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